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27 Jul 2020

The Playful Garden: fascinating and full of fun

Written by Jacky Brookes
An aerial view of Brodie Castle, showing the building surrounded by manicured lawns and woodland. A large gravel drive with several paths leading off lies in front of the castle.
The Playful Garden is home to an amazing menagerie of characters inspired by the castle’s quirky and colourful history, including Scotland’s biggest bunny sculpture.

Brodie the Bunny

Children love Brodie the Bunny! Come and meet our 6.5m sculpture made of white marble jesmonite, relaxing above the Playful Garden. Brodie the Bunny is inspired by Ninian Brodie’s acting career, in which he performed in the stage play Harvey. The main character in this play claims to have an imaginary friend who takes the shape of a 6ft white rabbit. A painting of the two of them hangs at the bottom of the main stairs in the castle.


Zoetropes are devices that produce the illusion of motion. Look inside our giant daffodils to see George sitting on a rocking horse! George is a bronze sculpture of an orangutan currently found in the entrance hall of Brodie Castle. He was used by the Brodie family as an extra person at the dinner table when there were an odd number of diners, as this was seen as bad luck!


Meet the playful unicorns that occasionally spray mist onto unsuspecting visitors! Mythical beasts of fairytales and legends, unicorns are regarded as all-powerful, magical creatures. The Scottish national animal, the unicorn is a symbol of everything good, honourable and strong. You can find a unicorn among many other symbols in the elaborate plaster ceiling of the dining room in the castle.

Giant table and chair, knife and fork

Much fun can be had on this giant table and chair! The dining room in the castle displays a magnificent dinner service, shipped from China around 1802. It originally had 400 pieces, although only 120 remain today. The dinner set is all hand-painted and there’s a spelling mistake on two of the pieces, where the Brodie motto ‘unite’ has been spelt as ‘untie’! Mischievous or mistake?

National Daffodil Collection

Visitors in spring are treated to the remarkable sight of the Brodie National Daffodil Collection. One of the greatest pioneers in daffodil hybridisation was Major Ian Brodie, 24th Brodie of Brodie, who used this area of the original walled garden to breed many varieties of daffodils. Over 400 were named and we have around 130 of these growing here now. Some are named after local places, some after places he had been to during his war service, some after the operas and music he and his wife enjoyed, and a few after people he knew. Look out for the labels in the beds.

Mini Brodie Castle

Children can become king or queen of the castle for the day when they pose in front of this mini Brodie Castle, a replica of the real thing!

Spitting toad

Our Playful Garden toad was inspired by the pets kept by Violet Brodie, Ninian’s mother. Violet was especially known for keeping unusual pets such as toads and she gave them names such as Grandma Volumina, Leo and Cleopatra! She was a keen herpetologist (someone who keeps amphibians and reptiles) and was responsible for the decoration of one of the bathrooms in the Laird’s Wing, which has tiles depicting leaping frogs and toads.

Musical instruments

The Brodie family always had a range of musical instruments in the castle, and these playful copies are for families to experiment with and to create exciting sounds that echo all around the Playful Garden.

There are lots of different features at Playful Garden – perfect for your children (and their imaginations!) to run wild ...

We look forward to welcoming you back!

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